Cash Boost To Help Disabled Get Into The Great Outdoors

A project to help people with physical or learning disabilities get active has been awarded £250,000 by the Welsh Assembly. The money is to be given to Groundwork Wrexham and Flintshire to fund a project that will increase people’s physical activity while enjoying the local environment. It will also be used to support group carers in the two counties. The money is part of £2.6 million being awarded in Wales as part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Mentro Allan programme.

It aims to make the “great outdoors” parks, paths, trails, waterways, coasts and countryside in Wales more accessible to people living close by who might never otherwise use them. This means parts of Wrexham and Flintshire will be opened up to people with physical and learning disabilities.

Groundwork Wrexham & Flintshire is now looking for a project co-ordinator to work on the project to promote outdoor activity in the natural environment for people with physical and learning disabilities and carers. Working with key local agencies, the project targets individuals living in the area who are at risk of disengagement, such as young people, women and those unemployed or not in education.

The project is now delivering an extensive programme of outdoor adventure opportunities including cycling, water sports, climbing, sailing and sand craft, utilising the natural environment and local facilities at hand.

To mark the announcement of the grants, Assembly Sports Minister Alun Pugh joined local children at the Marine Lake, Rhyl, as they took part in specially organised canoeing, climbing and cycling events.

The latest projects to be funded will get the less energetic to get active by urging them to increase the recreational use of their natural environment. Each local project focuses on specific hard-to-reach target groups in areas where physical activity participation is low and where there is a need to proactively remove barriers to enable people to enjoy outdoor activities.

Iolo Williams, nature expert and TV presenter, is but one of the high-profile celebrities who have thrown their support behind the programme in recent times.

The programme is also helping to drive forward the Welsh Assembly’s “Health Challenge Wales” initiative – a national focus to secure greater ownership, commitment and action for better health, as part of a co-ordinated and sustained effort to improve levels of health in Wales.

Outlining the importance of the programme to Wales, Mr Pugh said: “Wales has got one of the worst health and physical activity records in Europe, but a wonderful green gym on our doorstep. As well as being good for your health, taking part in exercise is a lot of fun. The Mentro Allan awards are an important contribution to the Welsh Assembly Government’s target for significantly increasing the amount of exercise we take by 2025.”

Philip Carling, chairman of the Sports Council for Wales, said the new projects would have many benefits to people in Wales. He said: “Decorated with wild mountains, rolling hills, picture-perfect parks and fields and pristine beaches, Wales has plenty to offer those wanting to get active in the great Welsh outdoors and experience that feel-good factor that comes from the sun on your skin and fresh air on your face. People of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to develop a life-long positive approach to health and fitness by simply stepping out on to their doorsteps and exploring the natural environment around them and I wish each project every success in delivering their positive messages.”